Hello everyone, welcome to the Diamond Mine! As y’all know, we have a slew of new miners this year and I have the honor of welcoming a great friend to the crew, DiAne Gates. In addition, she’s an awesome author! But I won’t spoil the surprise, let’s get started with the interview!
Renee: Hi, DiAne, I’m so happy you’ve joined us at the Mine. What can you tell us about how you began writing?
DiAne: Renee, thank you for introducing me to the Diamond Mine Writers. It’s a pleasure and privilege to be included in this talented group of authors.
Even though I’m a late starter, I’ve been writing for years, like since I was a teen. I’ve written and illustrated five other children’s books and hope to find a publisher for them in the coming year. We have an Air Force Colonel son and his beautiful wife, a daughter who resides in heaven for the past almost sixteen years, and her two almost grown children.
In 2010 God led me kicking and screaming to North Texas Christian Writers and the rest is history. He always knows best and has a perfect plan. Sure would have been easier if I’d gone peacefully, but that’s another story.
Renee: Oh, boy, now that does sound like an interesting story. I’d love to hear about it someday, as would everyone else, I’m sure! But for now, I think we have ANOTHER story to talk about. What’s special or unique about your book…you know, the latest one up for all these cool awards?
DiAne: Anytime you include Texas, horses, and rodeo in the same paragraph you have the makings of a rollercoaster ride of dips, dives, and page-turning drama. Throw in a tall, handsome Texas Ranger under that Stetson, El Grande, a teenage immigrant boy from China, and a teenage competition-crazed, barrel racing, bull riding gal, and her spoiled, temperamental, red-headed diva competitor—that spells unique by any description. Confine them all in a small Texas town outside Dallas, Texas, where prejudice and family lies flourish like a crop of sandspurs, and the story writes itself!
Renee: Well, then, I’d say ROPED is deserving of its acclaim! You said the book is set in a small town outside of Dallas? Is there anything unique about this small Texas town? How did you come up with rodeo as your topic?
DiAne: This Florida girl (meaning me!) arrived in Texas and had not a clue about anything rodeo. But due to corporate downsizings, I needed to help with family income and God opened the door for me to open my own business. After trials and errors, I hired a young mom who was a barrel-racer. We became close friends and my teen daughter and I learned to love the excitement of rodeo!
We pulled on boots and jeans. Weekends on the circuit taught me the lingo, introduced me to the nuisances of competition, buckles and titles, and ROPED became a figment of my imagination. One evening, perched high atop a field judge’s seat, I commenced to photograph the events, barrel racing first then bull riding. But instead of “that super shot” of a bucking bull, a Brahma bull named Booger Daddy had other ideas. The cowboys threw the gate open, he bucked twice and his cowboy hit the ground with a thud. Then I realized BD was staring right at me. He pawed the ground. My mouth opened to scream, but no sound came out and my feet and fanny refused to move.
Did I mention there was an enormous puddle of muddy water just inside the arena fence beneath me? A pick-up man galloped toward the now charging BD. The cowboy, his paint pony, and the bull all hit the puddle at the same time from opposite directions. Mud covered me, my camera, my white eyelet blouse, and fancy jeans—and Booger Daddy became immortalized in my first book of the ROPED series.
Renee: I wish I had been there! Mud baths are so nice, aren’t they? Besides watching rodeo (just kidding!) do you have any hobbies or things you like to do when you’re not working?
DiAne: For most of my life, painting has been my pursuit. I toured while living in Florida, doing weekend art shows. My mom referred to those years as my “gypsy life-style.” And when Book Two-TWISTED is released in the Spring of 2017, I will be giving away five or six of my paintings. I’ve graduated from that mud-caked camera and still love to roam the countryside taking pictures of God’s gorgeous creations. I also love to garden and cook and have a new blog entitled The Southern Side of Flavor, at http://floridagirlturnedtexan.wordpress.com. I share family recipes and give some tips on cutting calories yet maintaining flavor…southwestern flavor!
Renee: Oh, yum! Did you here that, folks? Food! Good southern food! I may need to visit this blog. J Is there a special quote or saying which comes to your mind in times of need or adversity?
DiAne: My mom was the queen of proverbial sayings. One of her favorites that is permanently engraved on the underside of my eyelids is, “If you don’t want to get in trouble, don’t be where trouble can happen!”
And yes, all these years later there are numerous times her words still echo in my head and heart…
My barrel racing terror, Crissy Crosby, hears her mama repeat those wise words to her in TWISTED, just like I repeated them to my own children when they were teens. And sometimes I still have to repeat them to myself when I see that uber-super shot I can only capture with a trip across someone’s pasture. My husband won’t buy me a four-wheel drive saying, “At least with a regular car I can hope you’re still on the roadway.” If he only knew—
Renee: God uses life to teach us lessons. Share one of your life lessons with us.
DiAne: This would be an eanie-meanie-miney-mo choice when you’re my age. But the most dynamic number of lessons came from one tragic life event—the sudden death of our twenty-eight-year-old daughter, almost sixteen years ago.
I was convinced my life and world went to the grave with her. But God taught me about “those secret things” He proclaims in Deuteronomy 29:29. The “why” questions drove me to near insanity until I read that verse early one morning. “The secret things belong to the Lord. The things revealed belong to you and your children forever.” I read and reread the verse, never having seen it before and God whispered Do you trust Me? I would love to tell you I answered with a clear, firm, Yes Lord. I trust You. But I could barely answer back with a nod and a gulley-washer tear storm. It took months for me to understand that if He answered my why questions, our Michelle would still be gone. Her death was one of those secret things. He had numbered her days before she was born.
The subsequent months and years I’ve learned that if we clutch what and those we have with a fierce grip, God cannot and will not replenish our hands with His peace and joy. I learned that as the scripture in Revelation says, “Blessed are those who die in the Lord for they find rest” comforts my soul when I miss my daughter. I’ve learned to count the blessings her death has loosed in so many lives. At her funeral five of her friends found Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Savior. God has blessed me by allowing me to walk through over fourteen years of helping and being His physical arms of comfort around others who are new to the grief journey. Does her loss still hurt? Of course, it does. But grief is the price you pay for loving someone. And it’s a small price when compared with our mutual love.
Renee: God promises never to leave or forsake us. Share an instance where you have been alone but God has been by your side in the tumult.
DiAne: In the weeks, months, and year after my daugher’s death, I cared for her almost five-year-old daughter and seven-month-old son. With all those people around, I was alone. Caring for little ones gave me no time to grieve and physical and mental exhaustion became normal for me. One afternoon I had enough and collapsed on the living room floor and sobbed. Our almost five-year-old granddaughter stopped and said, “Mimi, why are you crying?” I replied, “’Cause I miss your mama.” “Why?” She asked. “Cause she was my daughter,” I sobbed.
With her blonde tussled hair, hands on her hips, and that look only a little girl can give, she scolded. “Mimi! She’s still your daughter!” I dried my tears and accepted this new insight from a tiny girl who gained wisdom from her Jesus. God is good…even in times of great distress.
Renee: It’s amazing how complex we make life, isn’t it and through the eyes of a child, we are reminded how complete—perfect God’s plan is for us. All of us, from now to eternity. What is your life goal?
DiAne: My life verse is Hebrews 12:1-4…”Run the race that is set before you…” God doesn’t make mistakes. He promises if we belong to Him, He will bring good for us and glory for Himself out of everything He allows in our lives. And sometimes we forget, but God doesn’t.
However long He allows me to remain on this earth my one goal is to honor and give glory to His Name and His Word, and to share that Word and those difficult life lessons He’s taught me with everyone He places in my sphere of influence. ROPED, TWISTED, UNTIED, and any other titles yet to be named, share real life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and show God is Sovereign over all things. And if we allow Him, He will indeed transform our lives and fill us with His joy, now and forever!
Woohoo! The rodeo has come to the Diamond Mine!
DiAne has agreed to giveaway a digital copy of ROPED!
Leave a comment about the interview or ask a question to enter!
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One winner will be selected by random draw on 1/18/17.
About ROPED by DiAne Gates:
Thirteen-year-old Crissy Crosby chases a dream to live up to her parents’ rodeo legacy. But the rodeo championship is two months away and problems beyond her ability to solve stack and teeter like a game of Tumbling-Towers. Meanwhile rival Jodie Lea and her father, Ed Fairgate, contrive to swipe the silver buckles from Crissy’s grasp any way they can. Prejudice, anger, and dark secrets simmer in a pot of family feuds destined to boil over in a tragic nightmare at the rodeo. Will Crissy develop courage and faith to overcome the consequences of her temper? Will her dreams of buckles and titles become reality? Or will the character-building adversities of her life quash her dreams forever?
About DiAne Gates:
Texas writer, DiAne Gates, illustrates, photographs, and writes for children, young adults, and serious non-fiction for adults through her two Word Press blogs, Moving the Ancient Boundaries and The Southern Side of Flavor.
DiAne also works as a freelance artist, photographer, edit group leader for North Texas Christian Writers, and GriefShare facilitator. A writing stent with the East Texas Rodeo Association magazine, gave birth to this western rodeo adventure series, released by Prism Book Group in August of 2015. ROPED--Available at Amazon.com and the second book, TWISTED, continues the journey of the Crosby and Fairgate families. The third book of the series, UNTIED, is her current work-in-progress.
ROPED was selected as a finalist for the Grace Awards and the Christian Literary Henry Awards in 2016.
Wife, mother, and Mimi, whose passion is still to share those hard life lessons God allows in our lives. Lessons she hopes will leap from the page into your heart.
Crosswalk Christian Online Magazine: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/grief’s ugly-step-sisters.html
Face Book: http://www.facebook.com/dianegates.125